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April 12, 2019

DART Mission Set to Launch on SpaceX Falcon 9

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket

DART will target the smaller of the two objects (left) that make up the binary asteroid Didymos, which will be about 7 million miles (11 million kilometers) from Earth at the time of impact, scheduled for October 2022.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

NASA’s first planetary defense mission, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), has been slated for a June 2021 launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The mission, led by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, will be the first to demonstrate the kinetic impactor technique, which involves slamming a spacecraft into an asteroid at high speed to shift it off course.

“We’re excited that NASA has selected the vehicle to launch DART on its important planetary defense mission,” said DART Mission Systems Engineer Elena Adams, of APL. “The DART team is eager to move ahead with our spacecraft and mission designs and demonstrate, for the first time in space, a method to keep potentially hazardous bodies from reaching Earth.”

DART will target the smaller of the two objects that make up the binary asteroid Didymos, which will be about 7 million miles (11 million kilometers) from Earth at the time of impact, scheduled for October 2022.

APL will build and operate the DART spacecraft and manages the mission for the Planetary Missions Program Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. DART also is supported by teams from the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland; Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas; and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

To learn more about NASA planetary defense and DART, visit:
https://www.nasa.gov/planetarydefense
http://dart.jhuapl.edu/

To learn more about SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, visit:
https://www.spacex.com/

Media contact: Justyna Surowiec, 240-228-8103, Justyna.Surowiec@jhuapl.edu

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.